Once Called “The Smallest Town in Michigan” – Argentine, Genesee County
Looking at the village of Argentine on a satellite map, it may look huge – but that's because it sits near Lobdell Lake, among others, with plenty of summer cottages and homes spread out all up and down the shorelines. But when you actually drive thru Argentine, you see how small it really is.
Argentine is in Genesee County, the land settled by James Murray in 1836. The following year it got its own post office under the name “Booten”. However, there were several places with names similar to 'Booten', so the village name was changed in 1842 to “Argentine” (after the township) by Murray. Argentine was platted in 1844 and the nearby lake was named 'Lobdell' after early settler William Lobdell.
Lobdell Lake has a good handful of islands, the most popular being Blue Gill Island. Many summer cottages popped up here before and after the turn of the 20th Century. It's said that this was a good place to make maple syrup, which took place in the mid-to-late 1800s.
The village quickly grew in the mid-1800s with the appearance of a blacksmith shop, cooper shop, hotel, mill, and schoolhouse. Dr, Isaac Wixom, who platted Argentine, had high hopes for the village; with a lake for water supply and fertile land, what could go wrong? No railroad, that's what.
Argentine's future success hopes were dashed when a proposed railroad failed to go thru Argentine – it was built connected to Fenton and Linden, leaving Argentine unable to lure prospective businesses, residents, and travelers. Dejected, Wixom himself split and moved to Fenton.
However, all was not lost and the village survives. The nearby lakes currently bring summer vacationers who come into town to get food and other goods at the few shops that remain.
The gallery below shows some vintage photos of old Argentine, Blue Gill Island, as well as a few “then-and-now” comparisons.
The Small Town of Argentine, Genesee County
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